Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars

Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 3 hours, 47 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

Toka is a foxling servant, now serving the Soldati prince. He’s pleased with his station and happy to help the prince, Riley, and the king, Khalon. The only thing he wishes was different was that he could have Rayner as his own. But Rayner is a Soldati warrior, the king’s second in command, and the laws forbid the warriors and the servants from having relationships. But Toka pledged himself to Rayner anyway, even if he knows they can never truly be together.

From the first moment Rayner saw Toka, he knew the foxling was meant to be his. But the laws forbid it and, for centuries, he’s bided his time, knowing he could never have what he truly wantes. However, with Riley now the prince, things might change, and after waiting for so long, Rayber can no longer deny his love for Toka.

When a king from a neighboring kingdom visits, the whole of the Soldati are on edge. King Pavoni is a cruel man, and Khalon is just trying to avoid war. But Pavoni has it out for Rayner and will stop at nothing until he destroys Rayner. By taking Toka, Pavoni knows he has dealt the harshest of blows. But change is coming to the Soldati kingdom, and Rayner is just as determined to get his love back, before it’s too late.

The second story in the Soldati Hearts series picks up not long after the first one ended. In the first book, we see how much affection Toka and Rayner have for each other, but here we learn just how deep their feelings run. This story expands on the world building just a little, and is consistent as well.

I enjoyed both MCs when they were first introduced and this only grew as the story progressed. Given the shorter nature of the story, their love is proclaimed quickly and we jump right into them trying to figure out how to have a relationship. I think Cochet walked a nice balance here given the paranormal setting and the length, getting the reader invested in that relationship right off the bat.

Of course, things can’t be easy and there needs to be conflict to drive the story. In this book, it’s external. Rayner and Toka are ripped apart for the good of their kingdom. I understood Khalon’s decision in regards to what he was facing, and how he had to think of the good of all people more than just a few. But it still broke my heart to see him make his choice. And this is where my one quibble came in; not only does he make this decision, but he then takes a while to right his wrong and is forgiven far too easily for my liking. I would have liked to see more discussion, and even more amends, before he’s forgiven.

Narrator Gary Furlong gives another outstanding performance and had me riveted to the story. I loved the consistency with his narration in both characters and tone. Really, for me, the narration makes these stories even better. Cochet wrote a good story, but Furlong elevates it with his performance. The emotions are spot on, from sass and snark, to love, to worry and fear. I thoroughly enjoyed listening.

All in all, if you haven’t picked this series up, I suggest you do so, especially in audio.